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Bristolians share their creativity for A New Song For Bristol

Since we opened the public call for submissions back in November for our first major city-wide artistic project, A New Song For Bristol, Bristolians of all ages, communities and backgrounds have come through with their creative responses to life in Bristol over the last year.

And boy, have we been blown away by what we’ve received. Sifting through these creations of words, music and song, we’ve been inspired, uplifted, and shed more than a few tears. One thing is for sure – The strong spirit of Bristol as a community of DIY creators comes through loud and clear.

We couldn’t possibly have kept these to ourselves – we just had to share them with you. If you’re in need of a pick me up, do read on: we guarantee your heart will be warmed.

And if you too feel inspired, what’s stopping you creating something yourself? If you need a helping hand to get started, check out our starter tips, or our creative resource pack.

Living through Lockdown – by Reece Pennington-Field

Reece was inspired to write a poem about his experience in lockdown for A New Song For Bristol, living with his foster parents Mark and George, and sister Chaya and Chris.

Reece’s experience of anxiety particularly at the start of the pandemic will resonate with many people. What we loved about Reece’s poem is hearing about all the positive things Reece has done and learnt during this time, and the strength and love his forever family brings to him.

What Corona Virus and Lockdown means to me by Reece Pennington-Field

All of a sudden I had stop going to school and I missed my friends and teachers;
All of sudden the news was talking about a deadly virus;
All of a sudden I felt anxious about my Dads dying of the virus;
I didn’t want people to die;
I didn’t want my Dads to get poorly;
All of a sudden I had to do lots of school work at home;
All of a sudden I couldn’t go out on my bike or walk to the shops;
All of a sudden I had to speak to my social worker through Zoom;

And then all of sudden I realised things had changed for me and tried to look at the good things that this terrible virus made possible for me…………

Routine has been important to me;
I even know the exact time of tea.
Spending more time with my family has meant the world;
I’ve even helped my sisters hair get curled.
I look forward to my zoom school on most days;
Learning new things in a comfortable way.
Becki, Laura and Chelsea have helped me grow;
I’ll remember that forever I hope you know.
I’ve learnt to talk and open up;
There are always times people cannot shut me up.
I have baked cakes, cooked meals, burnt fires and done puzzles;
I’ve learnt to care for the dogs, give them treats and put on muzzles.
I’ve stayed up late and watched lots of movies;
I’ve chopped wood and crafted Bird Boxes.
I’ve learnt about the war and celebrated VE Day;
I even got dressed up and listened to war stories from Mavis our elderly neighbour the first week in May.
I’ve realised that I manage family time better on zoom than in person;
And this has stopped my anxiety worsen.

But most of all the memories that I will always carry with me when I am older;
Are that its thanks to the NHS and our heroes that’s taken the weight off our shoulder.
I’ve learnt to love my Dads even more and enjoyed the precious time we have spent together in lockdown;
I’ve appreciated them more and realised that this is my forever home.
I tell them every day that I love them and they put their arms around me making me safe that reassures me every minute they love me too.
And one day in the not far too distant future that Corona will come to an end;
I can only wish I haven’t driven Mark and George round the bend.
Me and my forever family will be look back on these memories and value our thoughts;
On the memories of Lockdown; the lessons we have all learnt and many things we have been taught……………….

Hannah Wood – Untitled

Hannah Wood has lived in Bristol for about 7 years after attending university and loving it so much that she never left.  As a singer/songwriter, Hannah thinks it’s a great place to be for busking and gigs.

About her song Hannah says, “I felt inspired by the vibrant music and art scene in Bristol.  It seems that before the pandemic, you could walk into any little venue and have an amazing time listening to people’s music and stories.  Even though we can’t do that now, I’m struck by all the positivity that I see around on a daily basis. Like all the encouraging messages that people leave in their windows and the warm smiles shared by strangers on socially distanced walks.  It’s nice to see that Bristol is still Bristol despite the difficulties that this year has brought with it.”

Listening to Hannah’s simple and sweet folk song really cheered us up and gave us a much-needed snapshot of hope for a time in the future when Bristol will be singing together in its much-loved music venues again.

What a year – by Kelly Smith

Next we have another poem from Kelly Smith, who works as a cleaner at St Peter’s Hospice.
“I work at St Peters Hospice in Bristol and we met the challenge of Covid-19 as front-line staff. We clean the in-patient unit and the whole hospice building, and I wrote this poem as some light-hearted humour to lift the spirits of my team.”

It goes without saying that our admiration for all the front-line workers like Kelly and her team is huge – and the positive and uplifting attitude to her work makes her even more inspiring.

We could all do with a shot of it in the arm, as well as a vaccine!

What a year!!! by Kelly Smith

We have laughed we have cried but we have all survived, produced some amazing work that deserves a high five.

Infection deep cleans in full PPE wearing a mask and you struggle to see, you keep on going even though you are hot as you do it for the patients and you all care a lot.

We Actichlor the walls, we Actichlor the floor, even Frank the CEO had a go, and do you know what he wasn’t slow, with 2 domestics it was quite the show over 13000 views he had did you know?!

Things are different and all very strange; in the future all this will change. We will have our team back together again missing those who are home gardening, cleaning and baking to stay sane.

If we can deal with covid19 without breaking at the seams we can look back together and remember what a year it’s been, and look at our unit its spotlessly clean no dirt or dust to be seen

What I am trying to say is thank you for a wonderful year; I think I could say it’s been the highlight of my career. Throw any job at the domestic team and we will pull together like a dream.

This time next year we will no longer fear, it will all come to an end and we can cheer. An amazing team back together again learning about infection control from Helen and Jane. Putting out the clinical waste in the pouring rain remembering you forgot the key and have to repeat it again.

In the team we have Aga, Ann Billie.  Chris, Carol and Georgia not forgetting Leanne, Leah and Lorna. And next up we have Mandy, Sandra and Suzy too, we have myself Lin and Tina all of which are amazing cleaners, Ralph and Steve to complete the team together keeping St Peters clean.

Thankyou Team,     

Kelly ☺

Untitled by Lilian Mason

Lilian Mason, aged 85 from Bedminster, hand-wrote us this wonderfully reflective and ultimately hopeful poem about the virus and the vaccine. In her letter she told us that she lived through the Second World War and had to take shelter every night as bombs fell. She addressed this poem to “all my friends”.

Oh to be in Bristol now that Covid’s here
We know its something nasty and something we should fear
We cannot kiss or hug our loved ones
And those frail ones that are old
But neighbours give us lots of help
They are kind and good as gold
I am sure this Covid has made us
A lot of nicer souls
And if we all obey the rules
We will achieve our goals
We will beat this nasty Covid
And learn to live again
And have fun and smile with pleasure
As the sun comes through the rain
Oh to be in Bristol now the vaccine’s come at last
We’ll now all have a future
And try to forget the past

In my dreams – by Rebecca Little

Next up is a musical offering from surgeon Rebecca Little. Rebecca explains why she wrote her song: “I suffered with PTSD during lockdown and this song was a response to my feelings. Composing songs has helped me recover.”

Rebecca’s beautiful and moving song needs no further explanation, the music and words expresses Rebecca’s experience completely – have a listen.

2020 Vision – by Tony O’Hare

Brought up in South Wales, Bristolian Tony O’Hare has lived in Bristol since 1978. “I feel like my “home” is in Bristol and find the city and its people and variety of influences and cultures very inspiring. Bristol has done itself proud this year, I think,” he says.

About his song for A New Song For Bristol, he says, “It’s my musical comment on 2020, entitled “2020 Vision” – my vision for what the coming year and years could be like, if we have “2020 vision”. It’s inspired by some of the major events that occurred in 2020 – Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and Brexit to name a few – that have affected us all in some way. Hope you like it.”

We certainly do Tony! Thanks for submitting it. And we recognise that chord sequence – do you?

And Suddenly Air – Deborah Harvey

Next we have a poem from Bristol poet and author Deborah, who has written about the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston. Deborah says, “I was born on Ashley Hill in 1961 and have lived in North Bristol for almost all of my life.

As a native Bristolian, educated in a house built on the profits from a sugar plantation but with never a word spoken about the slave trade, I have felt ashamed walking past the statue of Edward Colston for almost all of my life.

After the initial brief shock of Black Lives Matter protestors succeeding where polite requests for its removal or setting into context had failed for so many decades, a huge burden of shame and guilt was lifted and I felt the air come rushing in. The irony of this in the light of George Floyd’s murder was not lost on me.”

And suddenly air

And in this moment
as they haul his statue down

and roll it clanking to the quay
drown it in the Reach

we grasp the enormity of a story
come full circle

a black knee
pressed to the slaver’s neck

and suddenly
air

where all our lives
stood cruelty, shame.

©Deborah Harvey 2020

First published in ‘Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World’ edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa

Penfriend – Everything Looks Normal in the Sunshine

Finally we have “a lockdown anthem of hope for the future” from Bristol artist Laura Kidd, aka Penfriend.  Laura says, “I wrote & recorded this song in Lockdown 1.0, I wanted to write something to bring people together.”

We love this rocky number – it certainly perked up our day. Gotta love that sunshine!

Submit your creation to A New Song For Bristol

A New Song for Bristol is a city-wide invitation for everyone to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences of Bristol in 2020, creatively expressed through words and music.

Find out more about A New Song For Bristol, including how to submit here: bristolbeacon.org/ANewSongForBristol.

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On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

Our new name is just the first step, it is about more than the sign above our door. Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

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